Ross Feller Casey, LLP, through attorney Matt Casey, has filed a major lawsuit against General Motors on behalf of a Luzerne County teenager who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash allegedly caused by a defective ignition switch that has since become the subject of a massive national recall.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Damon Szatkowski, the popular Shavertown teenager whose improbable and inspirational road to recovery has been the subject of numerous media accounts in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Szatkowski, then 17, was driving a 2006 Pontiac Solstice at about 3 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2011 on North Street in Luzerne Borough. It was a clear and dry afternoon, and Szatkowski was wearing his seat belt. Without warning, the car became uncontrollable, veered to the right and struck a retaining wall on the west side of North Street. The airbags failed to deploy in the crash, and Szatkowski sustained permanent and catastrophic brain injuries as a result.

The car was recalled earlier this year by GM because of defective and dangerous ignition switches that the company now admits have been shown to shut off power to the engine and result in the loss of steering, brakes and air bags as well as other essential safety functions.

The lawsuit alleges that General Motors had known about the ignition switch defect for years and was negligent and reckless for not alerting Szatkowski and millions of other drivers of the problem until February when recalls were first announced. The suit also alleges that the auto giant was involved in “fraud” and a “civil conspiracy” for covering up the defective ignition switch problem.

By not acknowledging the defect sooner, GM demonstrated a “willful, wanton, outrageous and reckless disregard for human life and safety, including the safety and well-being of Damon Szatkowski,” according to the suit, which also is seeking punitive damages against General Motors.

Doctors initially believed Szatkowski wouldn’t survive from his injuries. Last year, with the use of a walker and despite his massive injuries, he was on the stage of the Dallas High School accepting his diploma.

“Damon’s heroic struggle, which he lives every day as a result of GM’s reckless conduct, is an object lesson for GM about the kind of values, like commitment, diligence, and fortitude, that should guide the company. And in order that others don’t suffer the same preventable, catastrophic injuries Damon has, we intend to impart those lessons to General Motors in the only place a private citizen like Damon has that kind of power: the civil courts,” said Casey.


The lawsuit generated media attention, including a cover story in the Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice (read story here) and in the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader (read story here).